Alternatives to Health Care As We Know It

My opinions about universal health care have changed dramatically in the last few months as I've become more educated about the issue. I used to be fully in favor of it. Now I'm not. And as the New York Times reports, I'm not the only one.

I have the same concerns about health care as many other people.

-Routine services are too expensive, even with insurance.

-I am afraid to seek health care because I am afraid it will have adverse effects on my insurance coverage, such as higher premiums or being dropped.

-I am afraid that my insurance will be canceled if I actually need to use it for some sort of expensive treatment, and not only will I be without coverage when I most need it, but all those years of premiums I have paid will be money thrown in the trash.

-I am afraid to get on my boyfriend's work plan, where my policy would be less likely (or not likely at all?) to be canceled because I am afraid of the high premiums associated with COBRA and the bureaucratic difficulties of getting an individual plan if he were to lose his job.

-I have had my monthly premiums increase dramatically from one year to the next even though I barely use my insurance at all. One plan I was on increased from $83 a month to $175 a month over a four-year period.

-I don't have very good prescription drug coverage. I have to meet a $500 deductible before brand-name medications are covered.

Under universal health care, I envisioned a system that would reduce my monthly health insurance premiums (say, to $50 a month), decrease the cost of prescriptions, and make me less afraid of how going to the doctor would affect my health insurance premiums/coverage, and guarantee me treatment were I to really need it.

I think a lot of people who support the notion of universal health care have similar ideas about what universal health care would look like. Take whatever you don't like about your health insurance, or lack thereof--the government will fix it under universal health care.

But, of course, it isn't that simple. The complexities of universal health care are beyond the scope of this article. But I'd like to share a couple of articles I've read that present radically different ideas about what kind of health care system we could have in this country. Some economists have thought outside the box and proposed that many components of our health care system that we take for granted as fixtures in the system might be a major part of the problem and therefore worth reconsidering.

A Sales Pitch for Laissez-Faire Health Care by Daniel B. Klein gives an overview of what our health-care system might look like without many of the components that we now take for granted but could be changed.

Abolishing the FDA by Larry Van Heerden gives an overview of how the FDA's relationship with drug companies has evolved and how the agency creates a false sense of security for patients.

Ranking the U.S. Health-Care System by Jim Peron provides the other side of the arguments we've all heard about how health care in Europe is better than in the United States because of the government's role.

After reading articles like these, I have to wonder if we are really approaching health care reform the right way.

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